Pittsburgh Penguins pull away for win over Arizona Coyotes

By Alan Robinson, The Sports Xchange  |  Dec. 16, 2017 at 11:18 PM
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GLENDALE, Ariz.-- Olli Maatta's slap shot goal from the left point with 14.5 seconds remaining ended Arizona's comeback and the Pittsburgh Penguins gave up a two-goal lead but rallied to beat the Coyotes 4-2 on Saturday night.

Evgeni Malkin scored for the Penguins and set up Maatta's goal, and captain Sidney Crosby added an empty-net goal nine seconds later as the Penguins ended a three-game losing streak and beat Arizona for the second time this season.

Carter Rowney got the Penguins going by scoring short-handed after they couldn't convert on the game's first four power plays, and Malkin made it 2-0 during a second period in which Pittsburgh outshot Arizona 17-6.

The Coyotes, despite constantly shutting down the Penguins' man-advantage opportunities and surging back with goals by Nick Cousins and Max Domi, dropped their sixth in a row and ninth in 10 games. Arizona is an NHL-worst 7-23-5 overall and 3-10-1 at home.

Matt Murray stopped 15 shots for the win after Pittsburgh had dropped four of five, all by one goal.

With their teams struggling for goals and wins, both coaches switched up their lines. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan tried out myriad combinations early on, such as moving up right wing Phil Kessel to Crosby's line. Arizona coach Rick Tocchet moved the slumping Domi -- who hadn't had a goal since Nov. 20 -- from left wing to second-line center between Christian Fischer and Clayton Keller.

But Domi drew three of Arizona's first four penalties, then lost a puck battle with Penguins forward Bryan Rust in the offensive zone to create an odd-man rush in which Rust fed Rowney for Pittsburgh's first short-handed goal in 77 games against Arizona.

Later in the second, Malkin dug out the puck behind the Penguins' net and broke up ice, then went to the net to nudge Conor Sheary's pass to the crease past Antti Raanta, who made 29 saves.

Cousins got Arizona back in the game by beating Murray with 8.7 seconds left in the second period, holding up briefly in the left circle to create shooting space for a wrist shot. Domi, shaking off his earlier misplays, then tied it midway through the third with his third goal and first since Nov. 20.

Raanta initially prevented Pittsburgh from taking the lead, making a strong save on Sheary's short-range wrist shot with the net seemingly open at 13:20 of the third. But he couldn't stop Maatta's game-winner during a shift in which Malkin dominated with his puck possession.

NOTES: Penguins RW Tom Kuhnhackl (upper body) sat out as fourth consecutive game. ... Coyotes C Zac Rinaldo (illness) missed a second successive game. ... The crowd was swelled by thousands of Penguins fans, who began the game with a loud "Let's go, Pens" chant. ... Diamondbacks RHP Archie Bradley watched the pregame warmups from the Coyotes bench. ... Arizona coach Rick Tocchet, a former Penguins player and assistant coach, has lost seven of 10 to Pittsburgh as a head coach.

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